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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rain, Red Rock & Roll

18 SEPTEMBER, 2009- After a jumbo buffalo sausage, chili nachos, half a pound of peanut M & M’s and an all-nighter at a Wal-Mart Supercenter, I am back from the Monolith Festival. Luckily, calories were shed climbing several lengthy stairways at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a hill-top arena with a magnificent landscape of naturally formed sandstone monuments. This was rewarding not just for spectators, but also for the artists performing because of the superb sound quality the space offers. Day one of the event was full of plastic ponchos, freezing fingers clutching bowls of warm festival food, and a lot of rained on American Apparel (one particular disappointment on this blustery day was the truck labeled Hot Apple Pie that did not, in fact, sell hot apple pies). Day two decided to grant guests some sunshine and a back-to-back onslaught of amazing acts. Plus, the sight of a random guy uni-cycling down a nearby mountain.

On night one, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ gritty, low-fi sound translated beautifully live. Karen O’s squeals and screeches reverberated from the rocks as she bounced and contorted onstage in Tex Mex inspired, Pendleton prints like a 4 year old throwing a tantrum. The show peaked with a strobed out “Zero” and was followed up by more mellow songs. Although, I wasn’t really feeling the weird eye in the background, and would have preferred the giant rock facade behind the main stage visible. Earlier that day, MF Doom delivered very audible rhymes, strolling the stage to and fro authoritatively with his hype man following a protracted, “make-some-noise” cum “I can’t hear you” intro by his DJ. Afterward, Of Montreal, their bizarre costumes, and kaleidoscopic background psychedelia took over, which I could have done without. Girl Talk rounded out the evening by successfully charging up the arena with his mash-ups act, while dozens of Denverites danced onstage. Think MTV Spring Break: the Cold Version.

The next day seemed the better of the two. Opening up with “Lisztomania”, Pheonix played to a full audience that rivaled the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’, despite initially having been scheduled to play the smaller stage. They sounded amazing, and maintained a steady resonance (particularly during the climax to “If I Ever Feel Better”). However, I was disappointed by their underwhelming stage set up. After bearing witness to Karen O dominating Saturday night, physically and through her powerful vocals, and later hearing/seeing a noisy Cedric Bixler-Zavala humping the floor while he whine-sung away, I was only left with silhouettes of stringy-haired Frenchies. During the afternoon, Method Man and Redman frequently asked the audience about weed and promoted How High 2 at the main stage, before revisiting some of their older sure-shots like "Time 4 Sum Aksion" and the song where Meth spells his name out. Commanding the Southern Comfort Stage, Passion Pit and Chromeo played for claustrophobic crowds, which made for frenetic dance parties. In Passion Pit’s case, this happened onstage as well, as the lead singer bounced around looking a little spacey from time to time. Playing during a 30 minute overlap with the tail end of Pheonix’s performance, people had spilled over for Chromeo, covering up every square inch of ground on the top level. The two stepping, clap-happy audience managed to interact in what seemed like a sing along for most of the show, especially during “Momma’s Boy” and “Bonafied Lovin’”.

Highlights I unfortunately (or fortunately) did not bear witness to include: Health causing a jam-packed-room frenzy, The Thermals’ frontlady changing out of her bothersome bra onstage, Rahzel’s entertaining beat-boxing extravaganza and Monotonix being crazy.


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I'm an LA transplant now living in Brooklyn. I develop film projects by day, write at night, and have a dangerous predilection for vintage Robinson Golluber scarves- this blog serves as a tiny window to everything else I do when I'm not satisfying those first three passions. I'm trying to blog more and tweet less @annabelleqv. What about you?

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